Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Dawn jumps up from behind the mountains and splashes over the city, making a high tide of light that reaches with bright yellow fingers up to my bedroom window.

The glow filters through the dust motes and the blinds. It paints stripes onto my floor. My dry body twitches, climbing the ladder up from dreams to a state of awareness. The images let go of me as my brain re-orders into something more limited. My conscious mind asserts itself, pushing the dreams away, eradicating the memory of them.

I remember. Last year that the road outside would have been filled with cars, honking horns, the hum of radials on warming pavement as the first world went to work.

That’s missing now. I can hear the scuffling of footsteps and people talking to each other. This is the new world. There are still banks and borders but cars, those dinosaur-blooded monsters come to reclaim the earth, they’re almost all gone.

I hear the ratcheting of changing gears on bicycles. I remember that rent will be due in two days.

Those of us that can afford it carry firearms now.

A frontier mentality is taking over, a mindset that always happen to humanity when faced with tough challenges. There’s an bluntness to it that I find refreshing in its brutality. Like the human race is going through a chapter of being honest with itself.

Gold is still gold but a majority of the businesses in the world have gone bankrupt. The upper floors of most high-rise downtown buildings are deserted. Offices have become hovels for nomads and squatters. We haunt this city.

The desert is reclaiming the world. I’ve heard the term ‘dustbowl’ from old books about the depression of the 1930s but I never understood it until now.

We all wear handkerchiefs or cheap air filters on our faces.

We feel lost. No leader has risen yet to take over. The whole notion of government has become informal. Local leaders are making the rules. The republicans were well-prepared. The liberals think the end times are here.

Myself, I know that I have to find some food out there and a day’s work. I wipe the sleep from my eyes and swing my legs over the edge of the mattress. I’ll check the condensation tanks and see what the day’s water levels are.

I’m awake.


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